Monday, August 18, 2008

Weather Safety for Appliances & Air Conditioning Equipment

When I awoke today and turned on my computer to, I found out that my home state of Florida is under a hurricane watch. So I began to prepare for the worst. I put up my shutters, stocked up on food, water, and gas for my generator. I am now prepared to weather the storm. In a couple of days the sun will shine again.

How to prepare your appliances and air conditioning equipment in the event of a hurricane.
Before bad weather arrives in your neighborhood, lower the temperature settings (colder) on the refrigerator, freezer, and air conditioning equipment. You can use your appliances and air conditioners normally until the electric starts to flicker or go out completely. When this occurs, turn off the refrigerator, freezer, and air conditioner controls. Also, make sure that the controls on the other appliances are turned to the off position. This will prevent the equipment from trying to restart. If the electrical voltage drops below 10% of the amount needed to run the equipment, it might cause damage to your appliances and air conditioning equipment.

Refrigerators and Freezers
Fill empty plastic soda bottles to 3/4 full of water and freeze them. This will help keep your food cold when the electricity goes out. Also, let your ice maker run and fill plastic bags of ice cubes to keep food cold. You might want to consider installing a surge protector or time delay to protect the compressor from short cycling. These parts are available at your local parts supply house. When the electricity goes off, turn the ice maker to the off position, try not to go into the refrigerator/freezer to often, with the doors closed, the temperature will remain constant.

Air Conditioning Equipment
You might want to consider installing a time delay to protect the compressor from restarting before the sealed system has a chance to equalize. This part is available at your local parts supply house. On room air conditioners, check around the outside of the case and the bottom of the unit to make sure that all openings are sealed, and the air conditioner unit is installed properly according to the manufacturer's specifications. Also, close the fresh air vent to prevent driving rains from entering the inside of the air conditioner and the home.

Washer and Dryers
Before a storm arrives, clean your clothes. I remember from the last storm, we began to run out of clean clothing. The electricity was off for three weeks. You do not have to turn off the water supply. Make sure that you have clean and dry clothing for up to three weeks.

Water Heaters
On electric water heaters, make sure that the clock timer is set to the on position. The clock timer is an add on device used to allow the water heater to cycle on at certain times that the consumer presets. When the electricity goes out at least you have one more hot shower. No need to turn off the water supply to the tank. On gas water heaters, run them normally.
If you do not have water pressure to the home, shut off the inlet valve to the water heater tank and turn off the electric or gas supply. This action allows you to have an extra supply of water if needed after the storm passes. The water heater tank can be drained as needed for survival purpose. If you use the water from the tank for drinking purposes, boil it first.

Make sure to run and clean the dishes before the storm makes landfall and electricity goes out. You do not have to turn off the water supply to the dishwasher. Also, make sure to have disposable plates, bowls, and flatware. If you run out of the disposables, then use your dishes and silverware.

Garbage Disposer
Run the disposer to remove the debris from the drain and pipes. This will prevent funny smells from coming up the drain when the electricity goes out. Make sure that the switch is in the off position when the electricity goes off.

Microwave Ovens & Ranges
Make sure that all controls are in the off position when the electricity goes out. You might want to consider preparing some cooked meals in case you lose power during the storm. After the storm passes by, it will be easier to reheat the food on the grill.

Operating Appliances and Room Air Conditioners on a Generator
There are times when we have to seek alternate sources of electricity to run appliances and room air conditioners. Many people are installing, have installed, or about to purchase an auxiliary power generator as an alternative. When purchased or purchasing a generator, you will have to take into account what appliances you intend to run off of it.
When you consider running lights, appliances, and room air conditioners on a generator, you must calculate how much wattage is needed for each product, including the start-up wattage. In addition, the voltage (120 or 240) and cycles (60) are critical for proper operation of appliances and air conditioners. If the voltage is less than 10 percent of the operating voltage, refrigerators, freezers, and room air conditioners will not operate properly, which might cause damage to the components in the product. Any variations in the cycles could speed up the clocks, or slow them down. It is also important when searching for a generator that it has the ability to regulate the voltage and has surge protection for use with appliances and room air conditioners. Check with the generator manufacturer for warranty, operation, installation, and sizing of generator before purchasing.
Never use a gas powered generator in the home during a hurricane. Wait until the storm has passed by, then place the generator outside the home, away from the building for safe operation. Read the use and care guide that comes with your generator before turning it on.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Appliance Question #5 Lint on clothing

I received an email from Joy:
I can't find the answer to something that I am having a big problem with, and I'm hoping that you can help me and my family out.

We bought a Maytag Atlantis Washer and Dryer about 2 years ago. Generally both machines run fine and we are happy with them.

But the washer has a big problem with lint. Dark clothes come out covered in lint, even though I am careful to separate our clothes. I wash only dark clothes by themselves and white clothes by themselves. Yet the dark clothes are covered with white lint.

What am I doing wrong? I don't overload the machine - quite the opposite.

Should I run the washer with no clothes every so often to clean out the lint filter?

Is there some way I can access this self cleaning filter myself and clean it?

I answered via email, but I wanted to share my response with you:

Lint is cotton fiber that has broken away from the cotton garment. Lint likes to attach itself to
synthetic fabrics. When this happens, the user often thinks that the washer is not performing
properly. Therefore, to solve the problem of lint on synthetic fabrics, the user must sort the
items before washing the clothes.
For example:
• The user must separate cottons from permanent press and knits.
• The user must separate light colors from dark colors.
Another cause of lint on clothes is overwashing. This causes the clothes to wear out
faster. To correct the overwashing problem, use only one minute of wash time per pound of
dry laundry with normal soil. Any more time than this is a waste, and it usually does not
get the laundry cleaner.
If the drain cycle is excessive, this, too, will cause lint to remain on the garments.
Check for improper drain hose connections. For example:
• Drain hose is too long (over 10 feet)
• Drain hose is too high (over 5 feet)
• Drain hose is kinked
If excessive drain times still exist, check the following:
• Check the filter, located under the wash basket on most newer models.
• Check to be sure that the pump is operating properly.
• Check for any obstructions in the drain system.
• Check for any obstructions within the water circulatory system of the washer.
Also, check the outer tub for buildup of soap scum which contains a buildup of lint, etc.
Once the inner basket is removed from the washer it will be easier to clean off this substance.
Last of all you must follow the use and care instructions that came with your washer.

Joy, let me know if that worked for you. Remember to send your appliance questions to

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Refrigerators and Freezers

Refrigerator/Freezer Maintenance

The inside of the cabinet should be cleaned at least once a month to help prevent odors from building up. Of course, any spills that might happen should be wiped up immediately. Wash all removable parts by hand with warm water and a mild detergent; then rinse and dry the parts. The inside walls of the cabinet, the door liners, and the gaskets should also be washed using warm water and a mild detergent, rinsed, and dried. Never use cleaning waxes, concentrated detergents, bleaches, or cleansers containing petroleum products on plastic parts. On the outside of the cabinet, use a sponge with warm water and a mild detergent to clean dust and dirt. Then rinse off and dry thoroughly. At least two times a year, the outside cabinet should be waxed with an appliance wax or with a good auto paste wax. Waxing painted metal surfaces provides rust protection. The defrost pan, which is located behind the toe plate or behind the cabinet, should be cleaned out once a month. The condenser coil should also be cleaned of dust and lint at least once a month. The floor should be free of dirt and debris when the cabinet is rolled out away from the wall. After the cabinet is rolled back into place, you must check to be sure that the
cabinet is level.
Always follow the manufacturers use and care guide for proper maintenance and installation of your product.